As an archaeologist, Jim has worked on land and at sea, on sites thousands of years old and sites as recent as the beginning stages of the Cold War.

During his tenure with INA, Jim took part in a INA/ARQUA excavation of a Phoenician wreck along Spain’s Mediterranean coastline. Here he helps excavation co-director Mark Polzer recover a 2,700 year old bag of pistachios, part of the cargo of commodities from a 3rd-4th century AD Roman wreck (Patrick Baker)

That has meant working around the world in dozens of countries, and yes, on the “Seven Seas” (plus a few other bodies of water).

Looking back, Jim is reminded of how lucky he is, and how many great experiences, and wonderful opportunities have happened, as well as how many superb people he’s been privileged to work with and how many friends have entered his life thanks to countless surveys, excavations and lab work.

Jim is currently Senior Vice President at SEARCH, Inc.

Previously, he was Director of NOAA’s Maritime Heritage Program, President and CEO of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology (INA), and before that, Director of the Vancouver Maritime Museum. Read more…

Recent Titles

The Lost Submarines of Pearl Harbor

The Lost Submarines of Pearl Harbor: The Rediscovery and Archaeology of Japan’s Top-Secret Midget Submarines of World War II

Texas A&M University Press, November 2016

The Maritime Landscape of the Isthmus of Panama

The Maritime Landscape of the Isthmus of Panama

University Press of Florida, August 2016

Misadventures of a Civil War Submarine: Iron, Guns, and Pearls

Texas A&M University Press, March 2012.

Silent Killers: Submarines and Underwater Warfare

Osprey Publishing, June 2011

Khubilai Khan’s Lost Fleet: In Search of a Legendary Armada

Co-published by University of California Press and Douglas & McIntyre, April 2009

Identifying the Remains of the Whaler Candace

Since the 1970s, Jim has been involved in digs on buried Gold Rush-era ships in San Francisco – like Candace. Most of these projects have been with Jim’s good friend Allen Pastron’s firm Archeo-Tec, who pioneered these types of digs and who have literally exhumed and documented the early history of San Francisco. Over the course of this project, Jim was able to employ some CSI-like archaeological detective work to come to a final conclusion about the ship’s identity. Learn more.

44 years and counting in the trenches


*Senior Vice President.

Projects TBA.

  • Hulks and Shipwrecks of the Falkland Islands. A National Geographic Society Waitt Grant-funded assessment of mid-19th to early 20th century sailing ships used as hulks in Stanley and Goose Green, and the associated maritime cultural landscape. Principal Investigator, 2017.
  • Doghole Ports of the Sonoma Coast, California. A land and water-focused survey of the maritime cultural landscape of the northern California coast associated with the Pacific lumber trade of the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries. Co-Principal Investigator, 2016-2017.
  • Pearl Harbor Defensive Zone, off Oahu, Hawaii. Documentation of Japanese ko-hyoteki Type A midget submarines associated with the December 7, 1941 attack, in conjunction with Hans Van Tilburg and Terry Kerby, Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory, and Frank Cantelas, NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Co-Principal Investigator. 2013-2016.
  • Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Maritime Heritage Assessment. Discovery and documentation of historic period shipwrecks including Oxford (1850), Noonday (1863), SS City of Chester (1889), SS City of Rio de Janeiro (1901), SS Selja (1910), SS Ituna (1920), USS Conestoga (1921), and unidentified shipwrecks, in conjunction with Robert V. Schwemmer and Michael Brennan. Co-Principal Investigator, 2013-2017.
  • Ex-USS Independence (1951), off the central California coast. Documentation of the Independence-class WWII, atomic bomb test carrier scuttled post radiation studies, in conjunction with Robert V. Schwemmer, Michael Brennan and Kai Vetter. Chief Scientist, 2015-2017.
  • I-400 (1946), Off Oahu, Hawaii. Discovery and documentation of Sentoku-class Japanese submarine scuttled post-war, in conjunction with Hans Van Tilburg and Terry Kerby, Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory, Co-Principal Investigator. 2013.
  • USS Kailua (IX-71), ex-SS Dickenson, off Oahu, Hawaii. Discovery and documentation of historic cable tending steamship scuttled post-war, in conjunction with Hans Van Tilburg and Terry Kerby, Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory, Co-Principal Investigator. 2013.
  • Monterrey Shipwrecks (ca. 1820), Gulf of Mexico. Deepwater (4300 ft.) survey, mapping and text excavation in conjunction with the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, BOEM, BSEE, NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration, Ocean Exploration Trust, Texas Historical Commission, and Maryland Historical Trust, Project lead, 2012-Present.
  • USS Hatteras (1863), Gulf of Mexico. Survey and mapping of wreck site. Project in conjunction with BOEM, BSEE, Texas Historical Commission and Tesla Offshore. Chief Scientist, 2012.
  • RMS Titanic (1912), North Atlantic. Survey and mapping of wreck site. Project in conjunction with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Premier Exhibitions, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, the National Park Service. Principal Investigator/Chief Scientist, 2010-2017.
  • Mary Celestia (1864), Somerset, Bermuda. Excavation of the interior of the bow of an American Civil War blockade runner. Co-Principal Investigator, June 2011.
  • Sub Marine Explorer (1865), Isla San Telmo, Panama. Survey and identification of American Civil War submarine. Principal Investigator, 2006 to 2011.
  • HMS Volage (1946) Bay of Sarande, Albania.  Survey of bow of British destroyer blown off during Corfu Channel Incident.  Project in conjunction with the RPM Nautical Foundation and INA. Principal Investigator, 2009-2010.
  • Monitor Russalka (1867), Baltic Ocean between Tallinn, Estonia and Helsinki, Finland. Consultation and survey of Russian Navy monitor. Co-Principal Investigator, 2005.
  • Gallipoli (Cannakale) Turkey (1914-1915) Reconnaissance survey of wrecks of HMS Goliath and HMS Triumph from naval battles off Gallipoli Peninsula. Principal Investigator, 2005.
  • Juno Beach (1944), Normandy, France. Survey of Canadian beach and offshore waters from the D-Day landings of June 1944. Principal Investigator, 2004. 
  • Wreck of US Collier Merrimac (1898), Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. Survey and identification of first warship sunk during the Spanish-American War, 2003.
  • Wreck of Fox (1912) at Qequertarsuaq, Greenland. Survey of 1855 steamship used in Arctic exploration and as an Arctic trade vessel. Principal investigator, 2003.
  • Wreck of Mongol (Ghenko) Fleet Vessel (1281), Takashima, Japan. Consultation on excavation of Chinese-built warship lost during Mongol invasion of Japan, 2002. 
  • Sub Marine Explorer (1865), Isla San Telmo, Panama. Survey and identification of American Civil War submarine. Principal Investigator, 2001-2006.
  • Wreck of HMCS Clayaquot (1944), near Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Survey and identification of Canadian minesweeper sunk by a German U-Boat, 2001.
  • Wreck of L-26, near Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada. Survey and identification of British 1920’s submarine scuttled after World War II, 2001.
  • Wreck of Mary Celeste (1885) Rochelois Reef, Haiti. Survey and identification and ongoing analysis of artefacts from a merchant ship previously found abandoned at sea in 1872 in a case that remains a notorious maritime mystery, 2000-2002.
  • Wreck of RMS Titanic (1912). Archaeological reconnaissance dive in submersible Mir 2, 2000.
  • Wreck of HMS Terror, King William Island vicinity, Nunavut, Canada, 2000. A search for Captain Sir John Franklin’s exploration ship, HMS Terror (1845-1848), 2000.
  • Wreck of RMS Carpathia (1918) Celtic Sea, off Ireland. Survey and identification of the wreck of the ship that rescued Titanics survivors, 2000.
  • Wreck of Sidewheel Steamship Great Republic (1867) mouth of the Columbia River, Oregon, 1997 to present. Ongoing survey and documentation of a portion of an 1879 steamship wreck initially thought to be Isabella, an 1830 wreck of Hudson’s Bay Company supply vessel.
  • Wreck of Maud, Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, Canada, 1996-1997. Survey and documentation of Arctic exploration vessel (1918-1931). Principal Investigator.
  • Maritime collections, Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, 1994-1995. Reanalysis and documentation of archaeological collections excavated at Fort Vancouver from 1948-1978 for maritime archaeological materials. Principal Investigator.
  • Wreck of Schooner Vancouver, Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia, 1994. Survey and preliminary documentation of 1836 wreck of Hudson’s Bay Company trading vessel. Principal Investigator.
  • Wreck of S.S. Beaver, Vancouver, 1991-1999. Survey and documentation of steamship wreck (1835-1887). Principal Investigator.
  • With the Submerged Cultural Resources Unit, work included documentation, survey, and analysis, primarily as project historian/archaeologist.
  • Fort Jefferson National Monument, Florida. Survey of numerous historic 18th and 19th century
    shipwrecks and documentation.
  • Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands. Survey and documentation of ships sunk in 1946 atomic bomb tests. Project historian and co-principal investigator.
  • Wreck of US Brig Somers, Veracruz, Mexico, 1990. Survey and documentation of 1847 wreck of Mexican War naval vessel, in cooperation with the Instituto Nacional de Antropologia y Historia. Principal Investigator.
  • Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, 1988-1989. Final survey of USS Arizona, and remote sensing survey for submerged aircraft wrecks and Japanese midget submarine both in the harbor and in the Defensive Zone outside the harbor.
  • Remains of the 1818 ship Candace, San Francisco, 2006. Analysis and identification of 1818 whaler partially dismantled at Charles Hare Yard.
  • Storeship General Harrison, San Francisco, 2001-2005. Excavation and analysis of 1840 ship converted to a warehouse and burned in 1851.
  • Charles Hare Yard, San Francisco, 1987-1988. Excavation and analysis of shipbreaking yard and associated vessel debris (1851-1857).
  • 101 Mission Street, San Francisco, 1987. Excavation and analysis of residential site (1849-1853).
  • Rincon Annex, San Francisco, 1987. Excavation and analysis of sailor boarding house site (1887-1906) on waterfront.
  • Shipwreck of Bark LaGrange, Sacramento, 1986-1987. Documentation and analysis of Gold Rush vessel and prison hulk (1836-1863).
  • Hoff’s Store, San Francisco, 1986-1987. Excavation and analysis of two collapsed, burned commercial and retail buildings (1851) on the former waterfront.
  • Field survey, excavation, preparation of research designs and project reports, including work as principal investigator for a variety of projects in various units and areas in the park in San Francisco and Marin Counties.
  • Matthew Turner/James Robertson Shipyard, Benicia, California, 1987. Survey and documentation of 1887-1918 shipyard site, test excavation and documentation of ex-whaler Stamboul (1841-1916) at site. Principal investigator. 
  • USS Monitor Project, 1986-1988. Project Historian and coordinator of archaeological and historical context studies in collaboration with NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program and the preparer of the National Historic Landmark Study for Monitor.
  • Shipwreck Survey, Cape Cod National Seashore, 1986. Field survey and documentation of various 19th and 20th century wrecks.
  • Wreck of Brig Isabella, mouth of the Columbia River, Oregon, 1986. Preliminary survey and documentation of 1830 wreck of Hudson’s Bay Company supply vessel.
  • Shipwreck Survey, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, 1985-1986. Field survey and documentation of hurricane exposed shipwreck remains on 60-mile linear beach area. Principal Investigator.
  • Black Point Battery, San Francisco, 1983-1985. Excavation and documentation of 1863 temporary harbour defence fortification. Co-Principal Investigator.
  • Shipwreck Survey for W. Lawrence, San Francisco, 1983. Remote sensing survey for 1851 wreck of U.S. Revenue Cutter. Co-Principal Investigator.
  • Shipwreck of Neptune, San Francisco, 1982. Documentation of early 20th century wreck on Ocean Beach. Principal Investigator.
  • Shipwreck of King Philip, San Francisco, 1981-1984. Remote sensing survey, test excavation, documentation of exposed remains of 1878 medium clipper wreck on Ocean Beach. Principal Investigator.
  • Shipwreck of S.S. Winfield Scott, Anacapa Island, 1981-1983. Survey and documentation of 1853 steamship wreck. Co-Principal Investigator.
  • Shipwreck Survey, Point Reyes National Seashore, 1981-1983. Remote sensing survey, test excavation, documentation of exposed remains of several historic 19th and 20th century shipwrecks in Drakes Bay.
  • Shipwreck of S.S. Tennessee, Marin County, 1979-1981. Remote sensing survey, excavation of 1853 steamship wreck and associated material culture. Co-Principal Investigator.
  • Sutro Heights, San Francisco, 1979-1980. Excavation and documentation of 1886-1939 residential complex and ornamental gardens. Co-Principal Investigator.
  • Field survey, excavation and preparation of Environmental Impact Reports in Santa Clara County, California. Project experience included prehistoric sites ranging from the Middle Horizon (3,000 B.P.) to Late Horizon (1,000-250 B.P.) and historical sites, notably the Luis Maria Peralta adobe in San José (1791).